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More Than 3,500 U.S. Weather Records Smashed in 2012

Interactive map shows extreme temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, floods, wildfires and droughts



Courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council

News reports in the past two weeks have noted that 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the U.S. Today we learn that 3,527 monthly weather records were broken in 2012, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The tally exceeds the 3,251 records set in 2011, the previous high. NRDC has just released an interactive map equipped with a slider that can be moved from January to December to reveal where record temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, floods, droughts and wildfires were occurring on any given day.

Tables on the map’s Web site also list specific dates, locations and weather records. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at NRDC, noted in a prepared statement that the rising incidence of extreme weather “has awoken communities across the country to the need for preparedness and protection.”

Tennessee and Wisconsin lead the list of states that had the highest percentage of reporting stations that logged new heat records, at 36 and 31 percent, respectively. March 2012 was the hottest March on record across the contiguous U.S., and July was the hottest single month ever recorded. Last summer also produced the worst drought in 50 years across the nation’s midsection; 1,300 counties in 29 states declared drought disaster areas. And wildfires burned more than 3.7 million hectares nationwide; the average fire size was 65 hectares, far exceeding the 2001-2010 average of 35 hectares.

The NRDC said the rise in extreme weather records should spur state and national efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions (the driver of climate change) and improve energy efficiency, and should motivate state and local governments to develop thorough emergency management plans.

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